Text from your Desktop PC

If you spend much of your day in front of a computer, and also reply to innumerable texts on your mobile, Mighty Text provides a workable solution to bringing the two together. Sign up to the free service and "send & receive SMS and MMS from your computer or tablet, using your current Android phone number. Messages stay in sync with your phone's SMS inbox." Imagine typing texts on a full sized keyboard — as they say in the classics, OMG!

Be Your Own Newspaper Mogul

There's an American pundit who likes to bang on about the 'hyper-personal news stream' that will supposedly come to dominate the way we consume news. We will select a highly individualised stream of information that closely mirrors our preferences. A taste of this future can be seen with the various news aggregators. Paper.li can take Twitter, Facebook or Google+ feeds and turn them into quite an attractive simulation of a newspaper. A business can build a collection of feeds likely to be of interest to its clients, including their own tweets or Facebook posts. A pro version of the service also allows a company to add their brand/logo to the newsletter, currently $9 per month.

Viewing Photoshop Files without Photoshop

Viewing native files from programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator can be difficult if you don't own the often very expensive packages. Google has recently added a useful functionality to Google Drive — the ability to accurately preview a number of exotic formats, including psd, ai, ttf and dxf. You won't be able to edit said files, but at least you will know what they contain. Users do not need to join Google apps (though doing so is a good idea) but can just go here to view immediately in-browser.

Offices in the Future

We've posted before about shared office spaces. Workers who traffic in information -- particularly those in the programming and design world -- sometimes use office spaces in an itinerant fashion. They occasionally need a workstation, so rent a space for a few hours, then move on. Some programmers set up shop in cafés or in a park on a sunny day. The point being that in a wireless/mobile world, location doesn't matter as much as it once did. So why have an office at all? Why even have your own computer -- or at least a desktop PC? Perhaps the future will be a world littered with access points and increasingly capable mobile devices, with all data and most apps in the cloud. You log in to your work space, access your data storage, interact with co-workers remotely and so on. For some people that world is pretty much here. The rationale for dingy office cubicles finally starts to evaporate. Once corporates sniff the potential savings, the logic may become unassailable.

Getting the Gist

Installed within Gmail, Gist attempts to leverage your contacts list by searching through your contacts and listing their online social presence: Twitter, Facebook and so on. Theoretically this might  allow you to identify commercial opportunities. Following installation on my Google Apps dashboard, Gist ran through my 2,000 + contacts and uncovered a surprisingly small number of clients/suppliers with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Perhaps commercial Australian users are not yet quite so gaga about social media as their American counterparts.
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Looking for a Shared Office Space?

For some micro businesses, the cost of a standalone office and related expenses is prohibitive. Yet not everyone is cut out for working from home, and many businesses need meeting facilities. Enter new services such as Open Office, which aims to hook up businesses with excess space with professionals looking for a few workstations to call their own.  The idea is great, the rental prices very reasonable, and some of the spaces advertised are pretty funky. However, there are distressingly few of them. Hopefully the service will catch on and the range of prospective shared spaces will increase.
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Update on DropBox functionality

After four months of using DropBox as our primary data storage channel, its viability is no longer in any doubt. 100Gb of storage space is beginning to seem a little restrictive, but with that caveat, the service works as advertised, and in an unobtrusive, reliable fashion. If Australian bandwidth was better, the whole concept would be pretty much perfect. We have DropBox linked to four desktop PCs in two locations. The need to keep track of file synchronisation and make multiple backups in both locations has vanished. At the end of each day, we save the working file folder to a backup USB powered hard drive. That, plus four identical copies of the data (one on each workstation) and the copy on the DropBox server (plus  DVD burn backups) makes the data seem quite secure. A skim of the DropBox forums hint at unmet demand for storage solutions larger than 100Gb, so hopefully additional packages will be rolled out soon.
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Twitter and Time Management

The immediacy of Twitter is exciting, but the usefulness of it takes a little while to become apparent. Following celebrity lives is one predictable function, but more serious business uses can be found:
  • tweet news of your latest products/services to your clients (assuming they 'follow' you -- something that you can encourage)
  • tweet interesting links/information in your business field (don't just promote yourself relentlessly)
  • encourage informal feedback from your customer base, or from potential customers
  • listen to leading thinkers/businesses in your field, follow up on some of the suggested links/hints.
  • Programs like TweetDeck can help you keep track of everyone you find interesting in the world of Twitter.
Twitter's truncated, telegraphic form cuts a lot of the clutter found in the rest of the web. It also presents very low entry barriers, and if you only send a couple of tweets a day and read a few more, represents less of a time commitment than a blog. The web is a very important business frontier, and tweeters are often right out on the bleeding edge.
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Productivity Ideas

If you are afflicted by self-doubt, procrastination, attention deficit disorder, old-fashioned laziness or a simple inability to get things done, 43 Folders is a very useful source of advice. Completely devoid of motivational bumph and navel-gazing, Merlin Mann's mission is to help you avoid distraction and get on with your real work. For example:
  • set your email to update once an hour, rather than every five minutes.
  • Writers should write, rather than read books about writing.
  • Everything takes longer than you expect, even when you anticipate it will take longer than you expect
  • Spend significant time thinking rather than filling up every moment of your time with activity
Many of his thoughtful and amusing musings boil down to the following nugget: "Creative work only seems like a magic trick to people who don’t understand that it’s ultimately still work."
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